New Louisiana secretary of state will face task of replacing voting machines

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The winner of the Nov. 18 runoff will be tasked with transitioning to new voting machines required by law amid widespread distrust in the election process following the 2020 presidential election.

(The Center Square) — A Nov. 18 runoff for Louisiana secretary of state will pit a proven leader in conducting statewide elections against a Baton Rouge attorney making her third attempt at the post.

Republican Nancy Landry, a three-term state representative who has served as first assistant secretary of state since 2019, and Democratic Baton Rouge attorney Gwen Collins-Greenup both collected roughly 19.3% of the vote in Saturday’s primary, elevating them above a field of eight.

The winner of the Nov. 18 runoff will be tasked with transitioning to new voting machines required by law amid widespread distrust in the election process following the 2020 presidential election.

Landry acknowledged the public’s perception of election security during a recent candidate forum hosted by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana and laid out how she’d continue the work of procuring a new system started by current Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who did not seek reelection.

Landry noted that while there “were some very troubling allegations, especially in swing states” during the last presidential election, “in Louisiana, we have safe, fair and accurate elections … and we did in (2020), as well.”

Addressing election integrity, she said, involves selecting the right voting system in line with a 2021 Louisiana law that bans the use of the current style of machines and requires an auditable paper trail.

“Our system now is a great system and we are recognized nationally … but our machines are outdated, they’re 30 years old and they’re falling apart and we can’t even get replacement parts,” Landry said. “The system I’d like to see us have is one that employs technology and uses machines so we have the speed, accuracy, and efficiency that we’re used to with machines, and we’d still get our results on election night like we’re used to, but it would also be fully auditable … a paper backup – a way for the voter to verify the accuracy of their vote before they cast their ballot and a way for our office to conduct an audit after every election.”

Collins-Greenup, who lost elections to Ardoin by double-digits in 2018 and 2019, agreed “there is a need for these voting machines that have paper backup that can be used as an auditable paper trail.”

“I think candidate Landry and I agree on that,” she said. “As far as to the security of our elections, the only thing we are missing is updated voting machines and the paper backup.”

Beyond the agreement on voting machines, Collins-Greenup said there would be “not a lot of changes” with how the secretary of state runs business services under her leadership, but she would focus in on business identity theft.

“That’s one area where the secretary of state’s office can have a proactive role,” she said, adding that she would encourage business fraud reporting and awareness. “I’d like to make the website more user friendly, that’s the only thing I’ve heard people are having issues with.”

Landry noted that while the commercial division is “one of the stars in the agency,” she’s worked to improve transparency and services, with a portal that will allow businesses to identify burdensome regulations that need attention.

Other efforts to that end include a small business liaison position created in the agency during Landry’s tenure that conducts roundtable discussions throughout the state to collect feedback, and a scheduled update to the secretary of state website.

“As secretary of state I will continue to work to improve the small business owner’s experience and make sure we help them reduce the burdensome regulations,” Landry said.

While Collins-Greenup wants to expand early voting “if we have the manpower,” she acknowledged Landry’s concerns about resources available, particularly in rural parishes.

“It’s very, very expensive and the parishes have to share the cost of that, so it’s a little bit cost prohibitive to be able to expand early voting,” Landry said. “I think seven days is adequate, with the ability to change that in the event of an emergency.”

Landry has stressed the importance of the 2024 presidential election and the timing of the March primary, which comes two months after the new secretary of state takes office.

“We just can’t afford to have a secretary of state that needs on the job training,” she said.


Collins-Greenup, meanwhile, has vowed to continue the agency’s nonpartisan focus as “the people’s candidate” and expand outreach to voters in an effort to “protect every eligible Louisiana citizen’s right to vote.”

source: justthenews.comcenter-square/new-louisiana-will-face-replacing-voting-machines

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